Beat, the UK’s eating disorder charity, will be keeping its online support group The Sanctuary open for 26 hours straight as part of the 2.6 Challenge, a nationwide fundraising campaign to raise vital funds to help save the UK’s charities.
The services staff team and Beat Ambassadors will be volunteering their time to supervise and moderate the discussions helping people with eating disorders across the UK from 12am on Sunday 26th April until 2am on Monday 27th April.
The online group, which was set up last month in response to the coronavirus pandemic, would normally be open from 4pm–8pm on Sunday
However, choosing to open the group overnight is not just due to the challenge. The charity has reported a 35% increase in contact to its support services in the past month, with more and more vulnerable people turning to Beat as lockdown continues. The constant presence of family or housemates and lack of routine has added further pressure to those struggling with an eating disorder, with Beat even having reports of sufferers now choosing to sleep during the day in order to use the kitchen in private at night.
Caroline Price, Director of Services, says: ‘We have seen unprecedented demand for our services since lockdown began, but at the same time Beat are facing a dramatic drop in income. We estimate the cancellation of fundraising events and reductions in other sources of funding will see our income drop by 30% this year. We are hopeful that this challenge will encourage people to sponsor us to keep our services running, but we also want to encourage anyone feeling vulnerable at this time to access support.’
Jess Griffiths, Clinical Training Lead, says:‘As lockdown continues, more and more of our beneficiaries have reported feeling as if they are under a magnifying glass due to lack of privacy and added scrutiny around eating. Beat’s online groups are even more vital right now as they give sufferers a safe place to discuss their feelings without judgement or shame.’
Rachel Egan, Beat service user and mental health campaigner says:‘Beat’s online groups have been like a life raft for me. Everything is so off-kilter at the moment and you can’t predict when you’ll be struggling, so having a space to speak openly at the end of your fingertips with people who understand is a huge help.’
Read more about the Helpline team’s challenge here
Join Beat’s online support groups here